Côte d'Ivoire

Fighting erupts in western Côte d'Ivoire

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Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire (PANA) - Fighting between Ivorian government and rebel forces took place on Sunday in Toulepleu, 650 km west of Abidjan, reliable sources affirmed Monday.
According to local residents who fled to the nearby locality of Guiglo, the fighting started around 7:00 a.m. on Sunday and lasted more than an hour.

"We heard violent shooting and heavy shelling in all directions, and people fled to areas under the control of government forces," said a carpenter who fled to Guiglo, adding that although calm seemed to have returned to the locality, locals were Monday morning still fleeing the area.

Army spokesperson Lt-Col. Jules Yao Yao said rebels launched an attack Sunday morning against government positions in the western locality of Toulepleu, close to the border with Liberia.

According to him, the rebel onslaught was three-pronged from the north, south and west, with the columns manned mostly by Liberian mercenaries. Yao Yao said the rebel advance was pushed back after an hour of fighting. There were no indications of casualties.

The fighting took place two days after President Laurent Gbagbo's address on the controversial Marcoussis Agreement, which was signed last month in Paris to define a peace plan for the Ivorian crisis.

The agreement provides for a government of national reconciliation that would include rebel representatives.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, who is to lead the new government, was reported to have arrived in Yamoussoukro, 240 km north of Abidjan, for a mini-summit of a contact group mediating the crisis on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Pan African News Agency
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